Field and lab procedures, excavation forms, collection data, geographic information and in-depth analysis results are only a few of the many types of data produced during survey and fieldwork. These corpora of scientific information have to be documented with authorship, provenience, location, and other standardized metadata, and organized in digital formats that can guarantee longevity, accessibility, and usability.
In order to do this, archaeological data (media, texts, narratives, documents, measurements, maps) need to be properly organized and stored in digital data structures, that are integrated and interoperable with other sets of data beyond their areas of immediate relevance.
With these considerations in mind, our colleagues at the Archaeology Lab of the Presidio Trust in San Francisco are conducting remarkable initiatives aimed at improving their data management and workflow. One of these is the Digital Archaeology Archive (DAA) project, conducted by me (Cinzia) and a team of Berkeley and CoDA interns.
Goal of this initiative was to provide an efficient workflow for a large scale digitization program. In order to do this we conducted a pilot project and started a framework for an integrated approach to digitization of archaeological collections, both artifacts and associated documents. Object of our study was the pottery collection, and a small glass assemblage, from the Funston Avenue Archaeological Research Project (FAARP) conducted by a team of Berkeley archaeologists in 1999/2000.
The first phase of the project has just turned to its end and the first results in a nutshell are:
- A digital photographic catalog of artifacts (8286 entries) with descriptive metadata and links to original files + derivatives;
- An Associated Documentation Catalog, 2559 entries including excavation and lab forms, journals, etc. for a total of 5714 pages scanned;
- A context inventory, ca. 700 entries with descriptions for trenches, units, and strata, with Munsell data, GIS data points, Elevations, Soil types and Inclusions;
- The Handbook for Digitization, a descriptive manual of the workflow.
Original images from this project have been included in the handbook to explain the principles of digitization and to document the workflow for use by our colleagues at the Presidio. Below is a series of images of a red earthenware decorated pipe from the collection, used to explain dpi/ppi and images resolution:
And a small assemblage of majolica sherds used to explain exposure (photos courtesy of the Presidio Trust).
While we are already planning the second phase of the project, in which all data sources will be linked through an integrated browsing system, we are very proud to announce these remarkable first results. Particularly valuable for us and for our colleagues at the Presidio is the Handbook for Digitization.
- An overview of Federal and international standards for digitization
- Context and history of the FAARP collection
- Complete documentation of processes and decision making throughout the DAA project
- Research and comparison with previous digital archive projects
- Good practices for future digital archiving activities
Stay tuned on CoDA to learn more about this project and contact us if you are interested in having more info or in collaborating in any future activities.